On car-shaming and reducing car use
Here is another article I am sharing (re-sharing?). I have seen or read a lot of posts on social media about how we should not go back to the car-centric traffic before the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and its variations. I do agree with this point. However, I take reservation about how some people seem to be resorting to car-shaming rather than be more proactive and progressive about coming up with strategies and/or plans that I hope would be evidence-based or supported by valid data. As the article states, “it takes more than car-shaming to change car use”:
Jaffe, E. (2020) “It takes more than car-shaming to change car use”, Medium, https://medium.com/sidewalk-talk/it-takes-more-than-car-shaming-to-change-car-use-107e28ccb2cf [Last accessed: 4/29/2020]
A key message from the article: “People are most open to changing their travel habits during major life events, such as a move. But even a well-timed message isn’t enough.” Perhaps the opportunity is here now to reform our transportation system. But that will take a lot of will or effort from all sectors most especially the national agencies (e.g., DOTr, DPWH) and local governments who have the authority and responsibility to implement changes. These changes include the assignment of exclusive lanes for bicycles, public transport and logistics while restricting car use. There are also other elements that need to be in place as we transition into the so-called “new normal” and so there will be a lot going on among the sectors or parties collaborating or interacting for transportation. Hopefully, there are context-sensitive strategies that will be adopted and implemented in order for everyone to transition more efficiently and effectively. And as they say…life goes on.
Public Transport Recommendations of the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team
Here are the recommendations of UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team: “Effective Reactivation of Public Transport Operations for the New Normal through an Information Exchange Platform for Collaborative Governance”
On public transport services during the pandemic
I’ve read a lot of discussions and recommendations pertaining to public transportation services (mainly its lack thereof) during the Enhanced Community Quarantine aka lockdown in most parts of the Philippines. Problem is, a lot of people had their mobility curtailed as most people did not have their own private vehicles (cars or motorcycles) to do essential trips (i.e., for groceries, market, drugstores, hospitals, etc.). These include so-called frontline workers, most especially those working in hospitals or clinics. Even the use of tricycles on a limited basis while adhering to physical distancing guideline was not allowed in many cities and municipalities. What do we really need to do now and in transition to address the lack of public transport services?
Here is a concise yet very informative article on transit:
Walker, J. (2020) “Cutting Transit Service During the Pandemic: Why? How? And What’s Next?”, Human Transit, https://humantransit.org/2020/04/cutting-transit-service-during-the-pandemic-why-how-and-whats-next.html [Last accessed: 4/23/2020]
Most of the points discussed and recommendations presented are applicable to our case in the Philippines. We should also accept the fact that we cannot go back to the situation prior to the ECQ, and that the new normal calls for a reduction in car use. Meanwhile, we still have to address the pressing issues and come up with a plan or maybe strategies for public transport that involved not just buses and trains but other modes as well like the jeepneys, vans and tricycles.
On walking, running and cycling for exercise during the Covid-19 pandemic
We had been walking in the early mornings prior to the so-called “total lockdown” implemented by our Barangay. There were others like us in our community who walked, jogged or cycled during the same time we took our walks. However, we all practiced physical distancing and used masks while outdoors. We could afford to do this because the village where we resided in had relatively wide streets and there were few houses and residents compared to other residential areas. In our case, we usually walked in areas where there were even fewer houses and people. It is highly unlikely we could get Covid-19 during our morning walks. Afternoons were different as we observed more people going around including those who appear to be joyriding with their motorcycles.
Is there actual evidence that walking, jogging, running or cycling actual aid the spread of Covid-19? So far, there isn’t and what we have are mostly simulations. Yes, simulations like those that appear in articles that are going around the internet; often shared in social media. Here is a more informative and objective article about this topic that articulates more the importance of physical activity (i.e., in the form of walking, jogging, running or cycling) in combatting the virus while also emphasizing the need for social or physical distance and the use of masks:
Niiler, E. (2020) “Are Running or Cycling Actually Risks for Spreading Covid-19?”, Wired, https://www.wired.com/story/are-running-or-cycling-actually-risks-for-spreading-covid-19/?bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&esrc=AUTO_OTHER&source=EDT_WIR_NEWSLETTER_0_DAILY_ZZ&utm_brand=wired&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_mailing=WIR_Daily_041420&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nl&utm_term=list1_p4 [Last accessed 4/15/2020]
I appreciate the efforts of those in our Barangay to make sure no one gets infected (there are zero incidents so far). However, sometimes the overeagerness seem to trump the need to practice common sense in these times. I believe there is a need to make an even bigger effort to ensure people are able to maintain physical and mental wellness through exercise or activity. I believe we are in a community where people are educated, aware and responsible enough to make this work.
On Davao’s Executive Order No. 23 allowing tricycles as a transport mode during the ECQ
The other day, I posted about the Pasig City Ordinance promoting cycling or the use of bicycles for transport during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) or lockdown period. Here is the Executive Order issued by the Davao City mayor where tricycles are allowed by the city (i.e., one driver and one passenger only) as a form of transport. The justification by the City Mayor in subsequent statements and interviews is so simple and common sense that you wonder why such cannot be allowed in other cities like Pasig, which at first allowed tricycles (also with the one driver, one passenger set-up) but was rebuked by national government for their alleged violation of rules set out by the task force in-charge of the nationwide ECQ. While the Davao Executive Order is in itself a formal document and statement, it is interesting to note that after issuing the EO, the Davao City Mayor, who happens to be the daughter of the Philippines’ President, also issued a statement that basically says she will answer all queries and criticisms of this EO; short of threatening those who will oppose it. Surprisingly or not surprisingly, depending on which side of the fence one is, national government was mum about the EO and let Davao be. Thus, it now presents a precedent for other LGUs to follow or invoke. Otherwise, there will be a double standard and it will seem as if Davao will always be a special case.
On Pasig’s ordinance promoting and supporting the use of bicycles
I am posting a couple of LGU issuances that would be good references to other LGUs as we all tread along through these quarantines, curfews and lockdowns (or whatever it is they call it these days). First off is the Ordinance from Pasig City. The city has been in the news quite frequently for the very progressive, responsible and active handling of the situation led by its popular mayor Vico Sotto. His policies and programs are claimed to be based on data or information on his constituents that his team is using with much efficiency. This shows us how data analytics can prove useful in times of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic. The ordinance also shows a grasp of realities for transport and the so-called “new normal” that people have been talking about once we transition out of the quarantines and lockdowns.
I guess it begs the question if Pasig is also coming out with a formal policy or statement regarding other modes of transport such as tricycles, jeepneys and buses. They did allow tricycles for a while until national government told them to cease tricycle operations citing health issues while not really delving into details to find a way to improve people’s mobility during these times. Meanwhile, other LGUs specifically one that is close to the President’s heart has defied the very same orders from national agencies to restrict tricycle operations as public transport. I will post that issuance next…
Is traffic congestion like a virus?
An article came up where the author explains the similarities of the coronavirus spread to the spread of traffic congestion. It is basically about modeling (and simulating) the spread while considering factors like the characteristics of the virus that are similar to traffic. I’m posting/sharing it here for future reference/reading:
Simon, M. (2020) “Turns Out, Traffic Spreads Like the Coronavirus”, wired.com, https://www.wired.com/story/traffic-spreads-like-disease/?bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&esrc=AUTO_OTHER&source=EDT_WIR_NEWSLETTER_0_DAILY_ZZ&utm_brand=wired&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_mailing=WIR_Daily_040720&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nl&utm_term=list1_p2 %5BLast accessed: 4/8/2020]
On transport for essential workers
One of the major issues during this enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or lockdowns that the government has imposed pertains to the transport needs of other essential workers. I say ‘other’ because unlike the frontliners, who include mainly medical personnel such as doctors, nurses and others directly involved in combatting this pandemic, there are varying takes on who belongs to the category of these ‘other’ essential workers. To simplify, I believe these should include those working in factories producing food items, medical equipment and supplies, and people working in supermarkets, drugstores, markets and banks. People involved in transportation such as truckers or logistics personnel are essential. So are public transport providers. How will food and other supplies travel from where they’re produced (i.e., farms, fish ports, factories, etc.) to the places where they are needed if our supply chains are compromised due to a lack of personnel?
Here is a recent article about the reduction of public transport services that has affected ‘essential’ workers in the Bay Area in the US:
Davies, A. and Marshall, A. (2020) “Public Transit Cuts Hurt ‘Essential’ Workers Who Need It Most”, wired.com, https://www.wired.com/story/transit-cuts-hurt-workers-who-need-most/?bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&esrc=&source=EDT_WIR_NEWSLETTER_0_TRANSPORTATION_ZZ&utm_brand=wired&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_mailing=WIR_Transportation_TopClickers_040620&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nl&utm_term=WIR_TopClickers_EXCLUDE_Transportation [Last accessed 4/7/2020]
In our case, there seems to be a double standard in how the national government sees our LGUs are trying to provide transport services. The cases of Pasig and Davao concerning the use of tricycles as public transport comes to mind but I will leave that topic for another article (soon!).
Cityscapes and mountains
I’ve been reading about how a lot of people seem to be ‘discovering’ the mountains around Metro Manila. It is not as if these have suddenly appeared or that many have been obscured by pollution. For the latter, perhaps if you lived some distance and pollution was so bad that the smog was thick enough to hide mountains then it would be easier to not see them. In reality, I think most of these people have just been too busy not to see these mountains and other landscapes when they happen to be in plain sight. Perhaps people were too distracted by their daily routines that they didn’t have time or relegated these to the background as if they were noise to be filtered. Parts of the Sierra Madre from Antipolo to San Mateo and Rodriguez (Montalban) are common sights that are not usually appreciated as people go on their daily commutes and are caught in traffic.
Here are some of the mountains that are visible from strategic locations. In my case, I live in Antipolo and an area near my home allows me to see well known mountain landmarks from different provinces.
Mt. Makiling in Laguna Province without the usual cloud cover of its peak
Mt. Banahaw and Mt. San Cristobal in Quezon Province are not usually visible unless its really one of those clear days.
Mt. Arayat in Pampanga Province is visible at the right side of the photo. The view though is marred by rebars sticking out from a house under construction.
Mt. Mariveles in Bataan Province with cloud cover serves as a background for the Metro Manila cityscape.
This is what Quezon City usually looks like with layers of smog making it difficult to ascertain any mountains that are visible on clear days.
I have photos of Mt. Natib, Mt. Malarayat and the Tagaytay Ridge that I will be posting here soon.
On changes in traffic patterns after the pandemic
We start April with a nice article from Cities of the Future. The article explains how traffic patterns will be changing due to Covid-19. They have already changed for most of us who have to deal with quarantines and lockdowns. And we should not expect things to go back to normal. “Normal” here, of course, is “Business As Usual” or was that. It is quite clear that we cannot and should not go back to BAU and it is probably going to be good for most of us. There will definitely be a lot of adjustments and sacrifices especially for commuters who have been dependent on cars for travel. The transport industry, too, will have to deal with the new supply and demand dynamics. And government should be up to the task of engaging and rethinking how policies and regulations should evolve to address issues coming out of the “new normal” in transportation.
Valerio, P. (2020) Traffic patterns are going to drastically be very different, says Micromobility expert , Cities of the Future, https://citiesofthefuture.eu/traffic-patterns-are-going-to-drastically-be-very-different/ [Last accessed: 4/3/2020]